Clarissa Eck came to pottery after earning her degree in Illustration and Graphic Design at Pratt Institute. Her clay journey began at The Clay Studio fueled by an energetic curiosity. She was a member of the Work Exchange Artist Program and recently joined the Associate Artists, making her artwork at The Clay Studio. See below for her inspiration and reflections on the work in this exhibition.
I create illustrated pottery which integrates animal messengers, ancient plant knowledge and hermetic symbolism—to stir the depths of the spirit. I create pottery because it links us to the moment. The images I carve into each object don’t live on a wall, they live in your hand, on your lips, near your heart. I owe my knowledge of this medium to my time spent as a student at The Clay Studio in Philadelphia.
My work as a potter is focused on the wheel. The cyclical motion of throwing invites intimacy and repetitive motion, such as the circling of the moon around the earth. Every pot acts as a functional or ritual vessel, while also being the ideal surface to communicate imagery to the user. I hand carve images of flora, fauna, celestial bodies and the human figure onto each piece to awaken recognition in the viewer.
The work I make seeks to reunite the human spirit with what we innately know - the experience of presence and joy as understood through the natural world. The animals which populate my pots are familiar guides and messengers, all native to my upbringing in the forests of the Hudson Valley. It is here where I took dark walks along the flooded creek, where I laid in the snow and saw the half moon hanging in sussurant branches, where ants dripped from summer peonies and bees thundered across thickets of locust and raspberry.
These small journeys gave me space and nourishment, respite from human expectancies. I began to understand that all beings belong to the same arc of existence, and this became my creative language. My endeavor as an artist is to bridge the gap between tame and wild. I seek to reintegrate our spirits and attention into the natural world and invite reverence to blossom. That which we revere, we protect. Ever more urgently humanity must take on the real work of stewardship and care for our relatives: plant, animal, and human alike.
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